Obesity associated with increased risk of preterm delivery

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Previous studies have suggested an association between being overweight or obese during gestation and spontaneous preterm delivery, but that relationship has been unclear until now. A recent study published in JAMA found that women who were obese (BMI ¥30) or severely obese (BMI ¥35) were two to three times more likely to deliver extremely preterm (22 to 27 weeks) as compared to women of normal weight. Although rates of obesity are decreasing, there still remains a large group of obese women who become pregnant.

Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm analyzed data on 1.5 million deliveries recorded in the Swedish Medical Birth Register from 1992 through 2010. BMI was calculated and preterm births were labeled as either medically indicated or spontaneous. Preterm deliveries were categorized on a spectrum from extreme (22 to 27 weeks) to moderate (32 to 36 weeks), Although rates of all categories of preterm births increased with increasing maternal BMI, the only statistically significant finding was that of the association between BMI and extreme prematurity.

Dr. Eugene Scioscia of West Penn Allegheny Health System in Pittsburgh says, There are a whole slew of problems associated with patients who are obese when pregnant everything from preterm labor to gestational diabetes to preeclampsia to macrosomia and large babies. If only these patients would understand the complications of being obese in association with being pregnant, it might motivate them to change their ways. Obesity has replaced smoking as the No, 1 complication associated with pregnancy.